Imprisoned Chinese Democracy Advocate Named Winner of Nobel Peace Prize

Published by: Frank Galvano on 8th Oct 2010 | View all blogs by Frank Galvano


Imprisoned Chinese Democracy Advocate Named Winner of Nobel Peace Prize

Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned Chinese democracy advocate, was announced as the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The announcement sparked condemnation from the authoritarian Chinese government and calls by a number of world leaders including US President Barack Obama for the man's immediate release.

News of the award was blacked out by Chinese state media outlets and government blocked the reports from Internet sites. China announced that the decision will harm relations with Norway and summoned Oslo's ambassador to Beijing to make a formal protest. In Oslo, meanwhile, China's ambassador to Norway met with an official from Norway's Foreign Ministry.

Norwegian officials maintain that the committee who votes on the peace prize is independent of the government and the country hopes to maintain good relations with China. The announcement of  Xiaobo as this year's peace prize winner follows a long tradition of honoring dissidents around the world. It's also the first prize for a member of the Chinese dissident community since it surfaced some thirty years ago after Communists launched economic but not political reforms.

54 year-old Xiaobo was sentenced to eleven years in prison last year for subversion. The Nobel committee said he is the first man to receive the award while still in prison, though others have been named while under house arrest or served prison time prior tp receiving the award.

Previous dissidents to receive the award include Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa in 1983, Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov in 1975, German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1935, and, most recently, Myanmar demacracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991.

The Nobel committee, in its announcement of the award winner, praised Liu's pacifist approach. They chose to ignore threats from Chinese diplomats that the decision would strain Norway's relations with China. The committee cited Liu's participation in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, as well as the Charter 08 document he co-authored as evidence of his worthiness of the honor.

President Obama said in a statement that the man “has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs” and that he is “an eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through peaceful and nonviolent means. We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible,” Obama said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed Obama's sentiments, calling Liu a “brave man,” and said she hoped the man would be released in time to accept the award in person at the December ceremony. Chinese authorities wold not allow media to speak with Liu, and it is unknown if he is aware of being honored by the Nobel committee.
 
China's Foreign Ministry predictably condemned the Nobel committee's decision, declaring that the award should have instead been used to promote international friendship and disarmament. “Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law,” a spokesman said in a statement. Honoring a criminal “runs completely counter to the principle of the prize and also desecrates the peace prize.”



Imprisoned Chinese Democracy Advocate Named Winner of Nobel Peace Prize

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